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The Business of Drugs


The Business of Drugs – A half-century into America’s ‘war on drugs’, a new Netflix series uses dollars, cents and economic incentives to ask: is prohibition worth it?

The Business of Drugs – Former CIA analyst Amaryllis Fox investigates the economics of six illegal substances, show how drugs push people into risky behaviors.


Storyline for The Business of Drugs

In a world where nearly all education on drugs is politicized in some way in favor of advocating the “war on drugs”.

The presentation of the material seeks and successfully serves to re-baseline public knowledge of the black market of various drugs in a simple, digestible and entertaining way.

This series knows what it is, knows what it is trying to convey, knows the audience, and executes its objectives well.

The Business of Drugs, a six-part series Fox hosts on Netflix, takes a clear-eyed approach to the futility of drug enforcement: what are the incentives, economic and personal, that keeps the market flow of narcotics churning despite a generational trail of violence and waste?

Declared in 1971 by Richard Nixon, the “war on drugs” refers broadly to the federal government’s campaign to control psychoactive substances through draconian legislation, expansion of enforcement agencies, and military aid and intervention to other countries.

Drug enforcement policies have long served as cudgels against minority groups – the first anti-opium laws, in the 1870s, targeted Chinese immigrants.

Anti-cannabis measures in the 1910s and 20s aimed for Mexican workers – and the current iteration grows from these roots.

Nearly 50 years and $1tn in, the business of drug prohibition has “not only not worked, but the problem is worse than it was when the policy began.


Episodes of The Business of Drugs

To understand the origins and true impact of the business of drugs, a former CIA analyst investigates the economics of six illicit substances.


Former CIA analyst Amaryllis Fox investigates cocaine’s profitable and deadly business cycle, which includes farming, smuggling, and sales.

The Business of Drugs – Synthetics

Despite its possible therapeutic benefits, MDMA is pushed into the shadows where it and synthetic analogues have become popular party drugs.


Amaryllis Fox speaks to Kenyans who live and work on the front lines of one of the world’s newest and most profitable heroin routes.

The Business of Drugs – Methamphetamine

Politics and history have made Myanmar ground zero in Southeast Asia for the production and distribution of methamphetamine.


Amaryllis Fox examines why nearly 80% of California’s cannabis sales occur on the black market, despite the legalization of pot in the state.

The Business of Drugs – Oxycodone

Amaryllis Fox explores how highly addictive oxycodone continues to cause unprecedented destruction across the United States and pushes addicts toward heroin.

The Business of Drugs

The Business of Drugs – Like its title, The Business of Drugs aims to be straightforward, or as clear as possible on the economics – dollars by gram, price increases by mile of transport – in shadowy systems for which transparency is a risk.

Each episode visits a different “hotspot” epitomizing the challenges, market and opportunity for positive change for each substance.

The Business of Drugs – For cocaine, Fox traces the bloody trail of the west’s habit from the plant’s cultivation in Colombia (a no-brainer for farmers, given the yield and influence of cartels), through Mexican smuggling routes, over the border to America’s draconian incarceration system for possession.

Synthetics presents the therapy potential of MDMA, particularly for PTSD, if declassification from schedule 1, the highest classification for drugs of allegedly no medical benefit, would permit serious research.

The Business of Drugs – For heroin, Fox visits the ports of Kenya, where the route for smuggling the drug produced largely from opium poppies in Afghanistan has proliferated into an economic boon for some and devastating addiction epidemic for others.

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